The goal of nearly every personal injury case is for the claimant or plaintiff to receive damages. Personal injury attorneys help their clients pursue three types of damages, and it's important to understand what they are and why they might be awarded.
1. Compensatory Damages
Yes, it might seem a little odd to call a type of damages compensatory given that all of the money is meant as compensation. However, the logic is that compensatory damages are ones that can be tied to the specific event.
Existing medical expenses are the classic form of compensatory damages. If you undergo surgery to repair a complex fracture in your forearm, for example, the hospital is going to send you a bill for an amount that will be specific right down to the penny. You will, in turn, include that cost in your personal injury claim.
Other types of compensatory damages include loss of income and damage to property. Future medical costs are also included in this category.
2. General Damages
Some personal injury attorneys consider this a subset of compensatory damages. Those who don't treat them as separate because many forms of damages aren't easily nailed down to a specific number. Pain and suffering are clear cases of general damages, but so too are loss of consortium and enjoyment of life. Emotional distress sits in this category, but not all states allow it to be claimed.
Claiming general damages usually requires documenting the nature of the claim. Lawyers frequently tell their clients to maintain journals. A client will write each day in the journal, noting things like when they experienced pain or couldn't engage in an activity.
Bear in mind claims usually have to be documentable based on pre-injury circumstances. For example, you can claim the loss of enjoyment of fishing as a hobby if you never owned a fishing pole before you were hurt.
3. Punitive Damages
Sometimes a defendant messes up so badly that the failure needs to be punished. This applies even if the conduct of the defendant has already been adjudicated in criminal court. In most states, the logic of punitive damages is to deter future violators. Perhaps the owner of an apartment complex repeatedly failed to fix the stairs before you fell. In this case, the goal is to send a signal to similar property owners that they need to take care of their locations.
An insurance company rarely awards punitive damages in a settlement. However, a jury can if the case goes to trial. Contact services like Nelson Fromer & Crocco Law Offices to learn more.